Men's Basketball Lets Wagner Slip By, Falls 64-61

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team played its first true road game of the 2014-15 season on Saturday, leaving the city of Philadelphia borders for the first time.

The Quakers entered Saturday’s game at Wagner still looking for their first win of the campaign, and unfortunately on this day it showed. The youthful Red and Blue was unable to hold onto an eight-point lead with less than eight minutes left and fell to the Seahawks, 64-61, at the Spiro Sports Center.

Penn’s lead was 51-45 with 10:12 left, after Darien Nelson-Henry knocked down a layup, got fouled, and hit the ensuing free throw. As it turned out, that would mark the last field goal for Penn until Sam Jones hit a last-gasp trey with just 1.2 seconds left and Penn already down by five.

JoJo Cooper was the difference down the stretch. Wagner’s freshman guard scored eight points in a row for the Seahawks (2-3), single-handedly turning a 56-51 Penn lead into a 59-58 Wagner advantage -- the Seahawks’ first lead of the day -- with 1:42 left.

Matt Howard had a strong second half, but his layup on the following possession failed to go in and Wagner rebounded. With Wagner’s shot clock winding down and less than a minute to play, Tony Hicks bailed out the Seahawks by fouling Marcus Burton (fouling Hicks out of his third game this season). Burton made one of two free throws to put the score at 60-58.

Penn’s next possession ended in a turnover -- the Quakers’ 22nd of the day -- as Antonio Woods drove into the lane but tried to feed Darien Nelson-Henry instead of putting up the shot. Nelson-Henry was headed to the boards for the rebound and never saw the pass, and the ball went back to Wagner.

The dagger came with just about 14 seconds left, as Wagner’s Greg Senat received a pass on the left baseline and hit about a 12-footer that made it a two-possession game. Woods missed a layup on Penn’s possession, and Senat was fouled on the rebound and made one of the two.

Nelson-Henry scored the first four points of the game, and that set Penn off on a 14-2 run to start the game. It was still 20-11, but the half was choppy after that and points were much harder to come by. (The Quakers turned it over 14 times in the first half alone.) Wagner eventually got as close as three points, but Sam Jones put back a missed Tony Hicks three-point shot at the halftime buzzer to give the Quakers a 31-26 advantage at the break.

Greg Louis and Howard scored nine points each on the day, while Hicks had eight. For Wagner, Burton finished with a game-high 17 points while Cooper had 15.

Penn returns to action on Wednesday at Navy, tipping off at 7 p.m.

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Game Notes: Penn shot a season-high 57.6 from the field (19-of-33); a season-high 36.4 on three-point shots (4-of-11); and made a season-high 19 free throws … Penn had just 33 field-goal attempts, a low in the Jerome Allen coaching era … Penn outrebounded its opponent for the fourth time in its five games this season … Junior Darien Nelson-Henry was the only Penn player to score in double figures, with 11 points; he is the third player to lead Penn in scoring in a game this year (also Tony Hicks and Mike Auger) … Nelson-Henry also led the Quakers in rebounds (8) for the second straight game and third time this season; the eight boards tied a season high … Senior Greg Louis set season highs in points (9), rebounds (7) and minutes (34) … Freshman Darnell Foreman had season/career highs in points (7) and steals (3) … Sophomore Matt Howard had nine points, giving him 24 in the last two games; he already has more points this season (40) than he had in 17 appearances last year (36) … Hicks scored eight points, his first time this season not reaching double figures in the scoring column.

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